Fluoride Action Network


The skeletal remains uncovered from the 2nd and 3rd century underground tombs of Palmyra, Syria, retain traces of arthritis and mottled enamel. A brown discoloration was also observed in the teeth. In order to clarify that these facts can be related to fluorosis, the teeth excavated from Tomb C and F in the Southeast Necropolis were analyzed. The fluoride contents of the fluorosis-suspected teeth (0.56 ± 0.16% (n = 7)) were higher than those of normal teeth (0.16 ± 0.18% (n = 7)). The highest content (0.85%) proved that 22% of the hydroxide in apatite was substituted by fluoride. The fluoride concentrations of the natural water including deep well water available today in this area ranged from 0.3 to 3.0 mg l?1. The highest fluoride concentration was found to be regulated by the dissolution equilibrium of fluorite, CaF2, through the process of evaporation and concentration in this arid region. Because of the common ion effect by calcium ions in a high concentration, the fluoride concentration was lower than that expected from the solubility product of fluorite (8.2 mg l?1). The mechanism of this process has probably remained unchanged since ancient times and therefore the drinking water used by the ancient people of Palmyra was estimated to contain fluoride at a level causing fluorosis.